Located in the north west of England, Manchester was founded by Romans around 79 AD and is famed as the first industrial city in the world. The city was built on the textile boom after 1800. The city underwent a huge regeneration in the 1960s and again after the IRA’s largest ever bomb on British soil was detonated in the city centre on June 15th 1996.
Today’s Manchester has a population of 515,000, is the third most visited UK city after London and Edinburgh, and is home to the largest city centre shopping mall in the UK (The Arndale Centre). The city’s 169m Beetham Tower is the UK’s tallest building outside of London.
It has been said of the city…
“For Manchester is the place where people do things…. ‘Don’t talk about what you are going to do, do it.’ That is the Manchester habit. And in the past through the manifestation of this quality the word Manchester became a synonym for energy and freedom and the right to do and to think without shackles.” From “Hobson’s Choice” by Harold Brighouse, 1917.
This statement holds true today. Manchester is still widely viewed as the ‘Northern powerhouse’, a well-run city with an independent spirit.
For this project I largely confined myself to the city’s Northern Quarter. The NQ designation is a retro-fitted brand developed in the mid-1990s. It refers to an area on the edge of the city centre adjacent to my birthplace of Ancoats. The latter is a mix of 19th century industrial mills and revamped 1960s housing developments. It is famed for its Italian and Irish communities and, latterly, a growing Vietnamese one too.
The NQ is essentially the bohemian area of the city. Think Greenwich Village with a good deal more grit. Grittiness and sarcasm being well known Manchester traits.